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Quick and Dirty Martial Arts School Start-up Tips

By Michael Massie

Every week or so I get an email from someone who is starting a school and wants the low-down on how to do it right.

It's a pretty tall order to sum it all up in an email, which is why I wrote a book about it. However, there are a few things I'd like to share on the topic - kind of a quick and dirty list of tips and suggestions for prospective school owners:

1. Don't Burn Bridges - Make sure your instructor is aware of everything you're planning to do, every step of the way. That way, you won't step on any toes or burn any bridges - I've seen guys do that in the past when it could have been avoided through simple communication.

2. Before You Lease - Most of your students will come from a 3 to 5 mile radius of your location. Find a good spot where there are lots of people and little competition, and start a part-time program. That way, you can test the waters before you drop a lot of money getting started. Even if you have to drive a good distance to find a great place, it'll be worth it. As for how to choose a good location, I go into detail on this in my book - it's too much information to explain in a simple email.

3. Teaching Additional Programs - A lot of people teach separate programs, because they want to attract different types of students. Offering more than one program or art could broaden the market you are able to attract.

4. Stay Legal - Legal issues are covered in the business manual, but take some time picking through the articles on this site - you'll find some good information here (much more information is available in the member's area). The best advice I can give is to speak with an attorney before you open.

5. Starting With Limited Funds - Start part-time, and use that money to fund your full-time location. Roll all your profit back into your business and save enough to cover six months worth of expenses before you open.

6. Invest Time and Energy in Advertising - Pour some good ol' fashioned sweat equity into getting the word out about your programs. Get some inexpensive yet professional business cards, print fliers and spend Saturdays handing them out at a grocery store or mall that's close by, distribute door hangers in neighborhoods close to your school, and have a professional build a website to market your school.

7. When to Quit Your Day Job - Don't quit your day job until your full-time school is paying for itself and your take-home profit has more than replaced your current income.

Need more guidance? Check out more of our articles and the materials in our member's area.


Mike Massie has been a full-time school owner for more than 15 years of his 25 years in the martial arts, and has started two successful martial arts schools from scratch. Mike provides business coaching for instructors who are starting their own martial arts schools via this site.